Voter Backlash and Polls Spell Trouble for Opponents of Gun Control
Have we reached the turning point — or a point of a turning point — on the gun control issue? Or an issue called “gun safety,” by those who want to soft-pedal that it is indeed gun control? It sounds that way. There are increasing signs that some politicos who voted to defeat the bipartisan gun control bill on background checks are starting to pay a price with their angry constituents. And a new poll underscores a fact, once again: a VAST MAJORITY of Americans want background checks, a desire seemingly contemptuously brushed aside by politicians who defeated the Senate measure.
Here’s the political fallout news:
PPP documents clear signs of voter backlash that all the spin from the NRA, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News and conservative website will not be able to wipe away:
New PPP polls in Alaska, Arizona, Nevada, and Ohio find serious backlash against the 5 Senators who voted against background checks in those states. Each of them has seen their approval numbers decline, and voters say they’re less likely to support them the next time they’re up for reelection. That’s no surprise given that we continue to find overwhelming, bipartisan support for background checks in these states.
Here’s the state by state rundown:
-After just 3 months in office Jeff Flake has already become one of the most unpopular Senators in the country. Just 32% of voters approve of him to 51% who disapprove and that -19 net approval rating makes him the most unpopular sitting Senator we’ve polled on, taking that label from Mitch McConnell.
70% of Arizona voters support background checks to only 26% who are opposed to them. That includes 92/6 favor from Democrats, 71/24 from independents, and 50/44 from Republicans. 52% of voters say they’re less likely to support Flake in a future election because of this vote, compared to only 19% who say they’re more likely to. Additionally voters say by a 21 point margin, 45/24, that they trust senior colleague John McCain more than Flake when it comes to gun issues.
-When we polled Alaska in February Lisa Murkowski was one of the most popular Senators in the country with a 54% approval rating and only 33% of voters disapproving of her. She’s seen a precipitous decline in the wake of her background checks vote though. Her approval is down a net 16 points from that +21 standing to +5 with 46% of voters approving and 41% now disapproving of her. Murkowski has lost most of her appeal to Democrats in the wake of her vote, with her numbers with them going from 59/25 to 44/44. And the vote hasn’t increased her credibility with Republican either- she was at 51/38 with them in February and she’s at 50/39 now.
Mark Begich is down following his no vote as well. He was at 49/39 in February and now he’s at 41/37. His popularity has declined with Democrats (from 76/17 to 59/24) and with independents (from 54/32 to 43/35), and there has been no corresponding improvement with Republicans. He had a 24% approval rating with them two months ago and he has a 24% approval rating with them now.
And then there’s Gallup’s latest poll that confirms how those who voted against the bipartisan gun control measure (which many gun control supporter said was not even a strong one) did so despite public sentiment for it:
Sixty-five percent of Americans say the U.S. Senate should have passed the measure that would have expanded background checks for gun purchases, while 29% agree with the Senate’s failure to pass the measure.
…..Prior to the Senate’s failure to pass the measure, numerous polls showed that roughly nine in 10 Americans favor expanded gun background checks in concept — a fact that a number of journalists, columnists, and politicians made note of. Gallup’s Jan. 19-20 survey, for example, showed that 91% of Americans said they personally would vote for a measure requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales. Gallup asked this question again in the April 22-25 survey and found a slight decline, to 83% support. The wording of the new question was slightly modified from the January asking, which may be responsible for some of the change. But it also may be that the Senate’s failure to pass the measure deflated Americans’ support for it.
Regardless of whether one looks at the 91% or the 83% support level, it is clear that more Americans support the concept of a law expanding background checks for gun purchases than say the Senate should have passed such a law.
Meanwhile, Democrats are licking their political wounds and trying a new strategy on the issue:
Democratic leaders are wooing staunchly pro-gun candidates to run in pivotal Senate races at the same time they are discussing a The two-pronged effort has prompted Republicans to accuse the Senate Democratic leadership of hypocrisy, but Democrats say it is simply smart politics.
The question is whether two of the Democrats’ most promising potential candidates in Montana and South Dakota will pay a price for the leadership’s political maneuverings in Washington. Or will recruiting candidates who do not support President Obama’s gun control agenda have any effect on Democratic fundraising efforts?
Brad Dayspring, the communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, took a swipe at Democrats for playing both sides of the gun issue.
“Washington Democrats preach gun control, but are recruiting adamantly pro-gun candidates like Schweitzer & Herseth-Sandlin. Can’t be both,” he posted on Twitter.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) posted a message on its online action center Friday calling for people to sign up to support Obama’s agenda of immigration reform, common-sense gun control and equal rights. But it’s eyeing candidates in Montana and South Dakota who are not likely to support Obama’s gun control initiatives.
Justin Barasky, the DSCC’s spokesman, said his party’s commitment to expanding background checks for gun sales cannot be doubted.
gun graphic via shutterstock.com